"I grew up drinking motor oil and breathing 2-stroke exhaust."
Welcome to all art and motorbike lovers! Last week, we had an intriguing interview with Sneha Yadav A.K.A @mechologue. The insights she gave us on work-life balance and being original were thought-provoking! If you missed it then don’t worry, click here to read the interview.
This week, we have a motoartist who used his art to fuel his passion for riding motorbikes, quite literally at that. With love for the motorsports running deep in his family, it’s only natural that he loves not just riding motorcycles, but making them from scratch. His journey of ups and downs lead him to the field of art, but hey - let’s not spill all the details here.
This artist’s story is best heard in his own words!
Quiet by nature, his eyes and art do all the talking. Introducing the one and only, Hamza Uddin A.K.A @hamerred49!
Left: Motoartist Hamza Uddin test riding one of his builds. Right: Motoart by Hamza.
Mallika: It’s been a pleasure working with you and having your art in both of our shows. You have a very unique aesthetic of neon-colored motorcycles floating in mid-air with the paint dripping. How did the drips come into being?
Hamza: I like neatly presented flaws, that’s how the style came up. In college, I was sketching bikes as if they were disintegrating. I wanted to show how you are exposed to the elements and how the constant pushing at speed feels like you are being destroyed. My initial works on pen and paper were slowly growing towards a drip-style. As I practiced, I learned to control the drips and create a flow.
From top left : Early sketches from college days that show Hamza's stylistic journey evolve from disintegration to drips, and further to the current neon drip style.
My mentor showed me how to use ink and paint when I was doing my post-grad. I used to use too much water which would create a flow that I liked a lot. I would keep my drawing pad vertical and so my sketches naturally flowed.
My journey started as an amateur artist, then learning and more learning to a photorealistic level which got boring after a point. Then I started destroying the photo-realistic sketch with a drip or a flow to show that the piece itself was dynamic and not completely stationary.
Mallika: I noticed that all your posts on Instagram mention your brother as the Director. What role does IRONic88 play in your work?
Hamza: After I’m done with a sketch, I take input from the people around me, my mom and brother. I'm a little fickle-minded so I come up with multiple options and ask them to select the version they like. When I’m working with a client, it is the client’s call. Otherwise it’s my family. That’s where my brother comes in.
"Stocks look like vacuum cleaners. . . if you look at a custom bike, everything has been addressed and touched by a craftsman and it has its own charm. It’s a piece of art."
Mallika: I’d like to dig more into how you got into art and motorcycles.
Hamza: I grew up drinking motor oil and breathing 2-stroke exhaust.
Mallika: [Laughter and bewilderment]. Please explain.
My father restores vintage cars and growing up in that environment has been a huge influence. My mom’s mom was a rally driver and my mom used to be her navigator. She learned to drive at the age of 14 and took it up as a hobby. It was common back then to have local events in the south and in gymkhanas. She used to race rally-prepped Gypsys and Fiats. My house is more like a garage.
Family photo with brother Saad, Hamza (second from left) and parents with a restored Cadillac.
I never found art to be a cool thing but I realized I was good at it. In high school, I used to sketch only horses. Then I turned to hot-rods, rat-rods, and the Bonneville salt flat races. I basically wanted posters in my room but didn’t have the resources like a printer. What I had is time so I thought why not replicate what I’m seeing. However, sometime into college, I completely stopped.
Then towards the end of my graduation, I realized I was not doing well in class. I felt like a failure. With nothing else to do, I and a few of my friends thought we’d do T-shirt design. That’s where I started developing and learning those skills to have an alternate career.
After starting in T-shirt design, I realized there was no money in it, but realized that if I do logo designs, I can get some money that I can use to buy petrol and get on the road. So that’s what we started doing. Sketch, save, buy fuel, ride.
Photos from college days working on stencils and wall paintings in cafes.
Then we started doing interiors of cafes and wall painting where we found potential and money. There was a lot to learn and that’s when I started exploring digital art. I found it to be easier and more convenient. And you don’t have to buy any canvas and materials.
Then I went to Pune to study product design. I was interacting with graphic designers and animators and other artsy people. That’s when I really started honing my skill and started doing it professionally. After post-graduation, I came back to Hyderabad and I figured I needed to have a style and identity as an artist. I had a mentor in my post-graduation who was a faculty member and he pushed me in the right direction. Hamerred49 started when I got a proper job.
I like motorcycles with character which lacks in almost every stock modern-day motorcycle. Motorcycles that need attention, care, and respect. Not just fuel and an on and off switch, ones that also need some mechanical knowledge and skill in order to ride them.
Mallika: Does that mean your brother and you are in the ‘built not bought’ camp?
Hamza: Yes, as much as possible, unless it’s a classic and has its own charm. My brother and I’ve built 5 bikes so far. Stocks look like vacuum cleaners. Some hyper-performance and superbikes have character but still, I think that mass-produced things are the worst things. You need to add your touch. You can’t expect what comes out of a factory to have character. Yes, they have great handling and are engineered to perform but aesthetically speaking they are not touched by hand.
Hamza and Saad with two of their recent builds.
Since I am a product designer. I know that you cut corners on everything so that it’s the easiest and cheapest to manufacture. Whereas if you look at a custom bike, everything has been addressed and touched by a craftsman and it has its own charm. It’s a piece of art.
Mallika: What are some challenges you have faced in trying to bring your motorcycle art to new audiences and how have you addressed these?
Hamza: I don’t seek an audience.
Mallika: But without an audience, your art wouldn’t be seen or have any commercial value?
Hamza: The audience never influences or interferes with my art. The client does. But if the client is too picky then it’s bye-bye. I feel that you are not motivated enough if you are looking too much into people’s opinions. Your style has to be influenced by the way you perceive the world and what you want to do. If you are taking too much input from others then it’s everyone’s style just going through you.
Mallika: Tell us about your moniker Hamerred49.
Hamza: The name goes back to high school days. I was in the rebellious phase of destroying and smashing everything that led to ‘hammered’. Not the hammer itself, but being broken and smashed. I deliberately chose the incorrect spelling because.. why listen to your teacher? I was also very bad at spelling and always used to get punished for that.
The number 49 was the local bus that I used to take every day to school. I used to play hockey and our practices were before and after school. For 12 years we used to be at the bus stop waiting to see this bus number 49. When you see it for so long, it starts looking like something beautiful that signals that your day has come to an end. I don’t think I've waited for anything that much.
Mallika: I remember the local bus I used to take for early morning basketball practise. For me it was a horrible ride with a creepy conductor and I’ll never use that number anywhere.
What are you working on these days? Is there a new series in progress?
Hamza: There’s a non-motorcycle series in progress in a new style for a client, contrast rebellion themed. And another wildlife themed.
Mallika: Anything you’d like to add for the audience you don’t seek out or other artists?
Hamza: Lots of people ask me to teach them and everyone looks for shortcuts. But there’s nothing that can replace hard work. There are no shortcuts. If you work hard, you will automatically get results. You can choose whatever medium and style you want but you really need to put in the effort otherwise it will go nowhere. Don’t get demotivated and don’t seek an audience. The audience will come to you when you are there.
Find this and many more motorcycle art prints in our online shop.
We will be back in no time with another motoartist and another interview very soon. Want to stay updated with killer motorcycle art content? Get it sent straight to your mailbox by subscribing to our newsletter below.
Stay tuned on our Instagram handle @motoartshow for the next artist reveal.
This is your host Mallika Prakash a.k.a. @mallikamoto signing off! See you soon!
Mallika Prakash is a motoartist and a curator who started life in Delhi, her art career in San Francisco and recently moved to Bangalore. She started Moto Art Show in 2018 in response to a lack of opportunity to exhibit motoart in India and began curating and hosting motorcycle-centric art exhibitions, bringing together a like minded community. She is extremely passionate about carving a space for motoart and everything it has to offer in the physical art world.